Solving real problems for potential users should be the focus for any system, and is doubly important when building an identity management system. Throughout this playbook, you’ll see how satisfying user needs is a guiding principle in every decision made.
One of the first steps you should take is identifying your core users. For login.gov, we’ve identified two groups as our core users: the general public and tech people inside government agencies. The goal for the system itself is to support and address the needs of the general public. To put it plainly, we want to make sure that our system makes people comfortable with logging in to government services. The public needs to feel confident that login.gov behaves as expected and will not disappoint them. The system also needs to address users’ entire experience as they try to accomplish their goals. Because identity verification and authentication is technologically complex, it’s not unlikely that even the most tech-savvy people could get stuck if their phone is lost or a system has errors. So in support of each agency’s mission, architects and designers of consumer identity management systems need to anticipate likely sticking points so that people don’t lose access to the services and benefits.
Agencies should figure out what portion of the public they serve and how services can be built to address their needs specifically. This will help agency integration teams understand what they need if they decide to implement the login.gov platform or any other consumer identity management system.
Finally, you should continuously test designs and tools as they’re ready to share and then adjust your project based on what you learn. In some cases, we learn that the current best practices aren’t good enough. And in those cases we’re pushed to try out new ways to give the users the best experience possible. That process involves further testing, educating users, and a willingness to iterate.
There are a number of specific design methods we practice to remain user-centered, and you can read about all of them, and use them yourself, by reviewing the 18F Design Methods.